Sunday, September 11, 2011


Saturday was a good adventure.

For some time this summer, we've been climbing the aid routes in Welsford both for fun, and to train for our upcoming trip. With most of the established routes crossed off our list, we've been looking around at other possibilities. For some time now, we've been looking at Cerebus.

Cerebus is a line found next to Odin at the back of the Ampitheatre. Cerebus is also the 3-headed dog of Greek mythology who guards the underworld. Although it's had a number of interested parties, to my knowledge it's never been climbed. With good reason. It's line begin's in the most radically overhung cave in Welsford for 50 feet before breaking out into 50 more feet of overhung cracks. The rock quality in the initial cave is mixed, with some solid granite breaking though areas of what resembles crumbly kitty-litter.

The discussion around this route is part of the lore. Although it's never been sent it apparently has a name? Even more interesting is that it's had a grade of 5.12d proposed for it as a free climb? Odd given that it seems as if nobody has lead it and it's nature would prove impossible to top-rope. Saturday, Erick decided to put an end to the speculation...

In exceptional style, Erick lead the route ground-up, complete to the top, maximizing his use of clean aid. He placed only 3 bolts on the 30 meter pitch, all hand-drilled, some while hanging from hooks on overhung terrain.
Hand-drilling... full-sized bolts = about 20 minutes each to place.
The route had no evidence of previous attempts as far as I could tell. For the entire ordeal (6 hours to lead, 2 hours to clean), a rain of lichen and rockfall filled the ampitheatre. Even after breaking through the roof after about 4 hours hanging in his harness on lead... I didn't hear a single gripe out of the fellow... he asked only that I send up some smokes to him on the tag line.  Classic!

When I finished cleaning the pitch for him my only question was: What's the new name going to be? His response: Orpheus... (who according to the ancient Greeks was the man who tamed Cerebus). Nice!
A shot of me rapping back down as the sun had set.
*as a footnote... if someone were to return and add a few more bolts to the lower section, this could potentially be a popular and modern mixed/drytooling route. The rock quality is poor in many of the cracks but there's ample solid face for bolts. There's plenty of features for hooking and this could be an absolutely stellar and athletic challenge. As is... I highly doubt that it will see more than a single ascent per decade.